Nonprofits that receive federal grant money are subject to certain restrictions and regulations that other nonprofits are not. For example, federal grant recipients commonly have to undergo specialized audits that confirm government money is being used appropriately.
Further, federal grant recipients must not engage in religious activity that would violate the constitutional separate of church and state. Specifically, federal guidelines mandate that no religious activity or teaching can be required for providing federally funded charitable services.
Recently, the federal government stopped funding Community Provisions of Jackson County because the government believed the organization was engaging in religious activity. The organization argues that pantry staff members only asked recipients whether they wanted to pray, recipients weren’t required to do so before getting their food.
The government agrees that the activities were probably innocent. In an effort to come to an amicable solution, the government is only asking that the organization offer to pray with recipients after instead of before they get their food. This way the prayers cannot be perceived as a requirement for receiving food.
If your organization receives government funding, make sure you know what the grant requirements entail so your organization doesn’t lose its funding.